The Fragrance of Milkweed


By Kathi Bletz



Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in bloom (photo by Jessamine Finch)

Plant love memories draw me back

to a rocky island in Muscongus Bay.

Sunlight slices through the morning fog

warming the winding trail.

Hiking across the island

we enter a meadow.

Above an expanse of pink flowers

monarchs flit and fly.

The air is redolent

with the stunningly sweet smell of milkweed.

I pause, and breathe deeply

Mesmerized by the scent.


The seed of an idea is planted,

Sparking a future adventure with my elementary students.

Delighted by the prospect,

they research, write letters, and sketch garden plans.


A butterfly garden emerges,

in the front of Bellaire Elementary School.

Soon, milkweed beckons the monarchs

Rekindling my memory

of being surrounded by the sweet fragrance of milkweed

on a summer’s day in Maine.


Monarch eggs on common milkweed (photo by Becky Barak)

Monarch caterpillar on butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa, photo by Becky Barak)

Monarch chrysalis on common milkweed (photo by Kathi Bletz)


Kathi Bletz has recently retired from a career that began as a first grade teacher and ended as the English department chair for the Carlisle Area School District in Pennsylvania. Happily, she spends her days playing tennis, gardening, sewing, and traveling.